Ten Minneapolis families get free computers, Internet access through pilot program

Ten Minneapolis families who currently don’t have computer and Internet access at home will receive free computers, one year of free Internet access and computer training through a new digital equity pilot program in Minneapolis. 

The new program is part of a partnership between the City of Minneapolis, Build Wealth Minnesota, PCs for People, USI Wireless, the University of Minnesota Broadband Access Project, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development that aims to bridge the digital divide and address the employment gap in the city. A recent City of Minneapolis survey found that while 82 percent of City households have computers with Internet access, only 57 percent of Phillips neighborhood residents and 65 percent of Near North residents have access at home. The survey also found that 25 percent of African Americans reported that they don’t have Internet access at home.

The City of Minneapolis and Build Wealth Minnesota are providing the funding for this program while PCs for People is providing the hardware, software and technical support. Build Wealth Minnesota is also working with each of the 10 families on long-term personal development to establish goals and track progress. The computers are being provided at no-cost to the families for their participation in the year-long training program. 

USI Wireless is donating 12 months of Internet service and the University of Minnesota Broadband Access Project is providing computer training and digital literacy skills to the program’s participants. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will also help program participants learn how to use computers and the Internet to search for jobs and gain employment.

The 10 families who will participate in the pilot have already been identified, although additional funding may be possible in the future. To qualify for this program, the families needed to reside in Minneapolis, be currently unemployed or underemployed while actively seeking employment, not have computer/Internet access at home, and live in a residence capable of connecting with USI Wireless Internet service. Families who are interested in participating in this program in the future should contact Build Wealth Minnesota.

Published Aug. 8, 2012